Trexquant Investment LP bought a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) during the fourth quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The fund bought 30,900 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,819,000.

Several other institutional investors have also recently bought and sold shares of the company. KBC Group NV boosted its stake in Merck & Co. by 32.7% in the third quarter. KBC Group NV now owns 1,398,162 shares of the company’s stock worth $87,259,000 after buying an additional 344,592 shares during the period. GW&K Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in Merck & Co. by 6.6% in the third quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC now owns 369,150 shares of the company’s stock worth $23,039,000 after buying an additional 22,736 shares during the period. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. boosted its stake in Merck & Co. by 1.5% in the third quarter. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. now owns 8,099,715 shares of the company’s stock worth $505,503,000 after buying an additional 120,129 shares during the period. JT Stratford LLC bought a new stake in Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter worth approximately $2,394,000. Finally, DAVENPORT & Co LLC boosted its stake in Merck & Co. by 13.3% in the third quarter. DAVENPORT & Co LLC now owns 1,871,109 shares of the company’s stock worth $116,776,000 after buying an additional 219,289 shares during the period. 74.10% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 64.11 on Tuesday. The stock has a market capitalization of $176.02 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 45.47 and a beta of 0.79. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $64.81 and its 200-day moving average is $62.39. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $51.59 and a 52-week high of $66.80.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.89 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.89 by $0.00. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 14.30% and a return on equity of 24.08%. The firm had revenue of $10.10 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.22 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.93 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post $3.81 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 7th. Investors of record on Wednesday, March 15th will be given a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, March 13th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.93%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 92.61%.

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A number of equities research analysts recently commented on the stock. Vetr raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $65.54 price target on the stock in a report on Wednesday, March 1st. Sanford C. Bernstein reaffirmed a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Friday, February 24th. BMO Capital Markets lowered their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $72.00 to $70.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, February 15th. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed an “underperform” rating and issued a $52.00 price target (up previously from $50.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Saturday, March 11th. Finally, Leerink Swann reaffirmed a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $67.72.

In related news, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 91,959 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.96, for a total transaction of $5,881,697.64. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 105,559 shares in the company, valued at $6,751,553.64. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Thomas R. Cech sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.42, for a total transaction of $317,100.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at approximately $323,442. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 106,959 shares of company stock worth $6,843,448. 0.05% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Merck & Co. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:MRK

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